Last week I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in Rhode Island with Heidi Hope Photography, Little Pieces Photography by Kelly Brown, Munchkins and mohawks and Pebbles and Polka Dots Photography. I spent three days living and breathing family, maternity, and newborn photography. Heidi, Kelly, Tiffany, and Mary are four remarkably talented women who are leaders in our industry and all four have created incredibly successful businesses on their own terms.
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I can’t begin to tell you how much I needed to hear what they had to say.

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When I went into business nearly five years ago I was met with a lot of criticism.  My business model was flawed.  I wasn’t skilled enough.  Other photographers had a litany of complaints about what I was doing and how I was doing it.

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As hard as it was to turn my back and walk away from them with my head held high I’m so glad I did.  Listening to Mary, Kelly, Tiffany, and Heidi talk reminded me that each and every person needs to define their own success.  That they need to do what is right for them; for their business, and for their family.   Because even though I have done what’s best for my business and my family those critical voices sometimes come in the quiet moments that maybe I am wrong.  That maybe I never was good enough and that somehow my success was a fluke.

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The four women I had the chance to work with during the photography retreat aren’t successful because they did what everyone else did: they are successful because they did things differently. They are successful because they stayed true to who they were as artists and because they built their businesses on that authenticity.

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It was fitting that one of our models on Saturday evening was a breastfeeding mom of three.  Five years ago I offered Breastfeeding Photography Sessions for the first time in Ottawa.  The sessions were met with equal parts appreciation and equal parts disdain and scorn.  I was warned that posting these supposedly controversial images would damage my reputation.  That people wouldn’t choose me as their photographer because of the photos I was taking.

Once again, head held high, I let people know that clients would choose me because of the breastfeeding images and that’s what was important to me.  Nearly five years later and there are several photographers in Ottawa offering breastfeeding photography sessions and I’m proud that I helped pave the way for these images to be sought after and appreciated.

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My voice and my vision are what set me apart and this retreat re-affirmed that I need to focus on what I do best: being myself.

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